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Smart Talk, May 27

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PREVENTION: Not to be taught in Green Forest.
  • PREVENTION: Not to be taught in Green Forest.

Barn door, cow, etc.

The Green Forest School Board voted recently to add six days of sex education to sixth and seventh grade classes this year because of a pregnancy outbreak. Fourteen girls in grades 6-12 (one in every 20) are pregnant or already mothers. One fifth-grader had a pregnancy scare.

The Green Forest students won't be getting comprehensive sex education, however. The courses will be taught by Reality Check Inc. of Lowell, a nonprofit group whose website (realitycheckinc.org) is loaded with propaganda about the shortcomings of comprehensive sex education, in which sex is discouraged but in which birth control methods are taught for those who ignore the abstinence message. In Reality Check's view, “comprehensive sex education assumes that teens will engage in high risk sexual behavior and are content to merely reduce the risk of that behavior.” That's a skewed assumption about comprehensive sex ed, but the Green Forest record suggests that sex, indeed, happens.


Down cycle

The League of American Bicyclists released its 2010 rankings for “Bicycle Friendly States,” and Arkansas was way down the list at 45 overall, worse than the 38th finish in 2009.

Rankings are based on legislation, policies and programs, infrastructure, education and encouragement, evaluation and planning, and enforcement.

Tom Ezell, president of Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas, says the league has high standards for bike-friendly designations and the 45 ranking was fair.

“We've made a tremendous amount of progress in grassroots and community efforts over the past several years, but at the state level bicycling has been largely ignored, and there's been no statewide effort or coordination. Hopefully, with the help from this new report and a little rabble-rousing, we can have an agenda for the coming year to help work on our deficiencies,” Ezell says.


Convention hopes deflated

Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore
blamed the economy for low registration for this week's 2010 Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) conference, which Little Rock successfully wooed to the city after budget concerns forced Raleigh, N.C., to scuttle its plans to hold the event. Moore said that around 500 people signed up for the conference, though they expected 1,000. Based in Dayton, NUSA is a non-profit that works to strengthen communities.

“I think it's the nature of the economy,” Moore said. “I've seen that in organizations I belong to…. Cities, as everyone else, are having to look at their overall fiscal health.” Like Little Rock, which has suffered declining revenues and been forced to lay off city employees.

What did Little Rock spend to get the event? Moore said he didn't have figures yet, but said employee and volunteer legwork made up most of the effort. “…as far as actual dollars out the door, it hasn't been significant.”

Online documents from Raleigh, N.C.'s July 2009 budget said that city expected to save themselves $75,000 by turning NUSA away.

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